Avinor Air Navigation Services on October 19 successfully guided its first commercial passenger flight—aboard a Wideroe Dash 8-100 turboprop—to the Arctic airport of Røst in Norway using its remote tower technology. A collaboration among the airport, state-owned Avinor, and the technology companies Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and Indra, the remote tower project allows for one person to control traffic at multiple airports from the same location, thereby improving efficiency and reducing costs as many of the control towers in Norway come due for refurbishment or replacement.
The project calls for the introduction of certified remote tower services from Bodø, Norway, by the second half of next year and for the system to control 15 airports by 2022. Plans call for the Norwegian airports of Røst, Vardø, Hasvik, Berlevåg, and Meham to become the first five facilities to use the remote service.
“While we are still technically in a test mode, the first commercial passenger flight completed marks an important milestone for us,” said Jan Østby, project director for remote towers at Avinor Air Navigation Services. “We had good contact and visuals with the aircraft during the entire approach and landing. The remote tower system functioned optimally in this operation. We have had a close dialogue with the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities since the beginning of this project, which has been important when introducing new technology into such a safety orientated industry.”
At Røst, the project partners have installed cameras, microphones, and other equipment that provide detailed information about weather and activities at the facility at all times. Equipped with only a camera mast, the airport will now receive ATC services from staff located in Bodø. Pilots flying the airplanes will not need to learn new procedures; they will continue to talk to tower personnel on the radio, as normal.
A camera at the airport takes a 360-degree image of the airport and features an infrared setting that allows for night vision. Every airport gets connected to the tower center via redundant networks. If one network should fail, the other can connect to the tower center, said Avinor. The high-grade aviation networks involve the use of both fiberoptic cables and radio transmissions.